Have you ever taken a Vatican tour after hours? I have heard such stories of the crowds that go through the Vatican and am hoping to avoid some of that and see more of the Vatican - rather than be surrounded by the masses. I see they offer an evening tour - that could probably be less crowded. Any experience with Vatican tours?
In 2014 I did the Walks of Italy after hours tour. I was under the mistaken impression (my own mistaken impression) that there wouldn't be that many people there. Not sure why I thought that. It was still really crowded with tour groups. Now, I've never been there thru the day, so perhaps it is even worse thru the day than after hours. We weren't sardines, but still lots of people.
Some people mention the Pristine Sistine tour that starts in the morning (8am) with Walks of Italy...I'm not sure if that is less crowded than the evening tours.
Not sure which days of the week will find you in Rome, but if Friday is one of them, you might consider visiting the Vatican Museum on a Friday Night. We did so last July (during RS' Best of Europe Tour) and it was great; far less crowds, with room to breathe and take in the surroundings. It was also special to cap our visit with a prolonged, non-rushed stay in the Sistine Chapel, before exiting into the night air and neighboring streets.
I would strongly support Matt's suggestion if the you are there on Friday. We visited on a Friday evening last October and I could not believe how relaxing it was. We have visited the museum a few times before - in the early morning, the early and late afternoon, and the evening is definitely less crowded. I actually got to see the "Lacoon" without being pushed through the courtyard and the Sistine Chapel was amazing with only about 150 people in it. The drawback is that not all the galleries are open. The Pinoteca - art gallery - is usually closed - so if this is on your list of sites to see you should check the website.
When I look at the dates on my photos, it was a Fri we were there as well with the tour - I guess hearing what the other posters said, it must be absolutely crammed at others times. I felt like it was crowded, but I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been...the tour gave us 15 min in the Sistine and we were actually able to snag a seat on the side. I can't really remember how many people were inside - but I guess far less than there could have been... - less than 200 would be my best guess (it was almost 2 yrs ago now).
When I had my phone consultation, Lisa Friend told me about the Friday night option. When I tried to order Vatican tickets on line for the Friday evening, they were not available so I reserved them earlier on Friday. I haven't checked recently on the Vatican site. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did. BTW, my husband and I are on the My Way 13 day Italy tour that leaves on May 1st in case any of you are our future traveling companions/potential new friends!
We will be there on Friday night - and I see the after hours tours are available. I have looked into the Pristine Sistine Tour - that meets at 730am. A fellow traveler from my area suggested I become a Patron of the Arts of the Vatican to get a private tour. The price is $ 1200 for my husband and I and while it would avoid some of the crowds it is over our budget. How long do you allow for a tour? Is one day enough?
We'll be on the Venice, Florence, Rome tour this May - looking so forward to it!
Thanks for all your input!
We took the Pristine Sistine tour with Walks of Italy. We did have to get up very early, but it was well worth it! We were able to spend time in the Sistine Chapel with very few people. We were even able to sit along the sides and gaze up at the ceiling! Amazing.
In the past 5 years, I have made two visits to the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel/St. Peter's - both of them morning tours. The second time I visited, I took the Walks of Italy "Pristine Sistine Tour;" it was a COMPLETELY different experience from the first time and so worth the cost of the tour.
The Pristine Sistine tour enters the museum as do many others - about an hour before the general public. However, unlike the first tour I took, The Pristine Sistine immediately bypasses all of the Vatican Museum rooms and goes directly to the Sistine Chapel. (Don't worry, they circle back to the museum and you get to see all the rooms on the second part of the tour.)
Although we were not completely alone in the Sistine, there were relatively few visitors at that hour. We had plenty of time inside without being rushed at all. We could sit wherever we wanted and were able walk around and stand wherever we chose, without the usual crowding. It was a completely different experience from my first visit to the Chapel. And if you have room in your luggage, bring a pair of opera glasses or small binoculars for an even better look at the masterful work.
Finally, don't forget to visit the top of St. Peter's dome. It affords a spectacular view of Roma!